Tuesday, November 30, 2010

BRIGHTEST DAY #12

“All This Useless Beauty”

Writers: Geoff Johns & Peter J. Tomasi
Pencillers: Patrick Gleason, Scott Clark, Ivan Reis & Joe Prado
Inkers: Mark Irwin, David Beaty, Tom Nguyen, Rebecca Buchman, Mick Graym Christian Alamy, Patrick Gleason
Editors: Eddie Berganza

Synopsis

J’onn J’onzz returns to Mars, only to find D’kay D’razz, the female green Martian, waiting for him.  She wants to join with J’onn so that they might restore Mars to its original splendor.  J’onn rejects her, and the two battle one another both physically and psychically…

Deathstorm and his Black Lantern Corps leave Silver City, NM with the White Lantern.  Firestorm races off after them, but the situation is made more difficult by the fact that Ronnie and Jason can’t get on the same page.  Deathstorm’s mysterious master orders his minion to bring him the White Lantern, prompting the Black Lanterns’ hasty exit.  Ronnie and Jason agree that they need the help of the Justice League…

Boston Brand and Dove use Oracle’s resources to try to figure out the identity of the White Lantern, even as Brand, sensing the recent resurrection of Black Lantern Deadman, realizes that something is very wrong in the world…

J’onn defeats D’kay, and then uses a newfound ability to restore the long-dead Martians to life.  He is reunited with his lost wife and daughter, and weeps as he hugs them.  Little does he realize that it is nothing more that a mental illusion created by D’kay and designed to trick J’onn into loving her…

Notes

Page 1:  J’onn J’onzz last appeared in Brightest Day #11.

That pyramid on Mars is J’onn’s home.  We last saw it in Brightest Day #1.

Page 2:  D’kay D’razz, or, as I prefer to call her, crazy Martian lady, last appeared in Brightest Day #9.

“You’re no longer destroying the Green, you’re cultivating it.”  It seems that although J’onn’s had an adverse affect on plant life on Earth, killing it, the opposite appears true on Mars; a veritable forest, similar to the one that grew in Star City, has blossomed on the formerly dead planet.  Unfortunately, unlike the Star City forest, which has a connection to the White Lantern, the Martian fauna seems to have some link to the Black Lantern. 

Notice that D’kay is using J’onn’s old sarcophagus as a dining room table.  Kinda tacky, if you ask me. 

Page 3:  “Do you recognize these scars?”  I am assuming that she is referring to the black marks on her chest and stomach.

“The Martian symbols of love and hate.”  Don’t prisoners get “love” and “hate” tattooed on their knuckles while they’re in prison?  Is this J’onn story going to degrade into a bad prison-film tale?

“If you wish, I can carve them into your skin too…”  No, really, I’m fine, thanks for the offer, though…

Page 5:  “I saw the White Lantern symbol – I felt its immense power through your mind – you can’t turn your back on why you were resurrected!”  J’onn was given a vision of his purpose by the White Lantern in Brightest Day #7.  According to the voice, J’onn must burn a forest down; for a time, he assumed that it was the Star City forest, but soon realized he was wrong.

Pages 6-7:   Ewww…Martian mind-melds are freaking gross.

“…and I was brought to Earth by Erdel’s transporter beam.”   Melissa Erdel, Dr. Saul Erdel’s elderly daughter, told J’onn about this event in Brightest Day #2.

“I was lost in the experience of being human.”  Given how long D’kay has been on Earth – Melissa was quite young when D’kay arrived and is on in years in the present day -- she must have assumed several different lives over the course of the years.  If she wiped her body and mind clear of Martian memories, then how is it that she assumed other identities?  Why would she not just grow old and die in her first and only human guise?

“…that is until I was suddenly hit by the massive telepathic burst you fired when you were killed…”  As seen in Final Crisis #1 and Final Crisis: Requiem #1.

“That finally occurred when I saw the images on television of your resurrection.  J’onn was resurrected, along with the rest of the White Lantern Twelve, in Blackest Night #8.  D’kay, in her human form, saw it on TV in Brightest Day #2.

Page 8:  “It was you – you sent that psychic flash to me on Mars – showed me I wasn’t the only Martian that Erdel brought to Earth – that you were the first --”  This happened in Brightest Day #1.

Page 9:  Nope, the JLA isn’t really there; they’re just figments of J’onn’s imagination.  But wouldn’t it be really cool if they did just show up like that?  Depicted here are the Flash, Aquaman, Superman, Green Lantern Hal Jordan, Hawkgirl, Hawkman, Wonder Woman (wearing her “old” costume), Green Lantern Guy Gardner and Batman (I assume that it’s Bruce, but you can’t really tell).

Pages 10-11:  “Did you really think we wouldn’t notice you were terraforming Mars by sucking the life from every blade of grass, flower and tree on Earth?”  Oh, so that’s why all the plant life that J’onn touched died, hunh?  Well, at least it was for a good reason…

Hey!  There’s Firestorm!  Nice of you to show up in J’onn’s imagination!

Page 12:  Firestorm, Deathstorm and the Black Lanterns last appeared in Brightest Day #11.

“Up, up and awayyyy!”  What, does Deathstorm think he’s Superman all of the sudden?

Page 13:  “That thing has trapped my dad inside him – and your dad -- ” Deathstorm absorbed both Martin Stein and Alvin Rusch into his matrix in Brightest Day #11, in an effort to get back at both Ronnie and Jason.

“Next to Batman and the Flash, you had more super-villains targeting you than anyone else.”  It’s true.  Ronnie had quite the gallery of foes when he first started out as Firestorm – Multiplex, Killer Frost, the Hyena, Typhoon, Bug & Byte, Plastique, Black Bison, the Enforcer, Henry Hewitt, the 2000 Committee, Tokamak, Silver Deer, Slipknot, Mindboggler…man, they all had it out for the poor kid.

“You were the youngest member to ever join the Justice League.”  Firestorm joined the JLA in Justice League of America (first series) #179.

“You stopped nuclear wars, Ronnie.”  After Professor Stein was diagnosed with brain cancer, he and Ronnie attempted to force the United States and the Soviet Union to destroy all of their nuclear weapons.  This story began in The Fury of Firestorm the Nuclear Man #62.

Obviously, given that the Soviet Union ceased to exist in 1991, almost twenty years ago, the events of that story would have to be tweaked a bit to fit into modern DC continuity.  However, it’s good to see that it is still fondly remembered by someone other than me.

Page 14:  “Maybe we’re upsetting the matrix.  I don’t think we’re supposed to be arguing.”  Martin Stein warned Ronnie and Jason against arguing, lest they ignite another Big Bang, as revealed in Brightest Day #10. 

“That voice.  I’ve heard it somewhere before.”  Who is it, Martin?  Who wants the White Lantern?  Oh, tell me please please please…

Page 15:  “I think it’s time we go find the Justice League.”  Uh, which Justice League do you want?  The heroes formerly known as the JLI who are busy hunting down Maxwell Lord?  The new JLA, which counts among its members a bunch of former Titans, a few Infinitors and a talking gorilla?  Or the big guns, all of whom have their hands full with loads of other things right now?

Boston Brand and Dove last appeared in Brightest Day #9.

They are hanging out at the Watchtower, which is Oracle’s base of operations in Gotham City.

“I haven’t felt that since…the white ring brought me back to life.”  Again, that occurred in Blackest Night #8.

In the pile of photos are pictures of Doctor Light III, the Ray II, Resurrection Man, the Flash II, Green Arrow, Halo and someone who kinda-sorta-not really looks like Firestorm. 

Page 16:  “Who do we think is going to be the White Lantern?”  Isis.

Isis.

Isis Isis Isis Isis Isis.

Man, I’ll feel really freaking stupid if I’m wrong…

Pages 18-19:  So all of the sudden J’onn can just punch a planet back to life, hunh?  Interesting development…

Those Martians are taking the news of their resurrections pretty calmly, if you ask me…

Page 20:  M’yri’ah and K’hym are J’onn’s wife and daughter. 

Martian names are such a pain in the neck to type...and my spell check is just crying out to correct them. 

Page 21:  “I have been blessed with new powers – I healed Mars and I healed you!”  Man, I never realized that J’onn had such a god complex.  Must suck to hang out with him…

Page 22:  Ooooh, that D’kay is one sneaky bitch, isn’t she?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

JUSTICE LEAGUE: GENERATION LOST #11

“Heavy Metal Poisoning”

Writer: Judd Winick
Penciller: Aaron Lopresti
Inker: Matt Ryan
Editor: Rex Ogle & Brian Cunningham

Synopsis

One week ago, Maxwell Lord works with Professor Ivo to use a virtual reality program to transform the Metal Men into sociopathic robotic minions for his own use…

Today, the Metal Men attack Rocket Red, Fire and Ice at the Checkmate lab in China, thinking the heroes to be otherworldly invaders.  The heroes of the JLI are overwhelmed and, not wishing to harm the Metal Men, decide to retreat.  Ivo orders the robots to combine and form Alloy…

Booster Gold, Skeets, Captain Atom and Blue Beetle investigate a second Checkmate lab and find it filled with an army of half-built OMACs.  They realize that Ivo is in league with Max…

Back in China, Alloy knocks out Rocket Red and Fire, leaving Ice the last hero standing.  She pushes herself like never before, using her ice powers to incapacitate Alloy, but she is left transformed, her skin a light blue and her hair and body covered in ice.  Fire notes that this is something new…

Notes

Page 1:  As revealed on Page 5, these are the virtual reality versions of the Metal Men…

            Gold:  Caucasian man with blonde hair
            Tin:  the “little man”
            Platinum:  Asian woman
            Lead:  big, goofy guy in the hoodie
            Mercury:  androgynous redhead
            Iron:  African-American man

Pages 2-3:  Presumably, those huge cybernetic centaurs are the Romnitaurs that VR-Gold referred to on Page 1. 

Page 4:  As indicated by the caption, this scene on Pages 4 & 5 takes place “one week ago.”  By my estimation, that would be sometime between the events of Justice League: Generation Lost #1 & 2. 

Professor Anthony Ivo, first appeared in Brave and the Bold (first series) #30.  A criminal mastermind and scientific genius responsible for the creation of Amazo and the Tomorrow Woman. 

Page 5:  “Narnia” refers to the fictional realm featured in C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia.  It is populated by talking animals and epic battles of good versus evil. 

“I’ll double check on Doc Magnus…”  Doctor William “Doc” Magnus is the creator of the Metal Men.  Presumably, Max is holding him against his will. 

Page 6:  The Metal Men, Rocket Red, Fire and Ice last appeared in Justice League: Generation Lost #10. 

Page 7:  “Mercury, right?  Liquid metal, but only at room temperature.”  When he is in his right mind, Mercury is fond of telling any and all who will listen that mercury is the only metal that is liquid at room temperature.

Page 10:  Man, the JLI ertainly is getting their butts handed to them by the Metal Men, aren’t they?

Page 11:  “We can’t have the entire Justice League joining us in here.”  I am sure that the last thing Ivo wants is yet another confrontation with the JLA; he’s had his plans foiled by them countless times over the years.  Can’t blame him for being a little bit JLA-shy, now can you?

Page 12:  “Alloy.”  Hmm…I wonder what that could mean…

Page 13:  Oh, Alloy…

Alloy is a “battle-form” of sorts for the Metal Men, in which they combine to form a really big honking robot.  Alloy first appeared in Kingdom Come #1, and later appeared in modern continuity in Superman: The Man of Steel #1,000,000, part of the DC One Million event.

And Alloy last appeared in a flash-forward (oh, how I miss Lost) in Justice League: Generation Lost #10.

Page 14  Skeets, Booster Gold, Captain Atom and Blue Beetle last appeared in Justice League: Generation Lost #10. 

“They’re checking out one active Checkmate cell.  We’re checking out the other.”  This line implies that there are only two Checkmate cells that they need to worry about, but in Justice League: Generation Lost #10, Skeets informed the team that four previously dormant cells went active after Max Lord returned. 

“This solves the mystery of where the 500 OMACs who attacked my house came from.”  As seen in Justice League: Generation Lost #2. 

“Lately I…I can’t really feel exterior temperatures.  Not much, at least.”  Captain Atom’s recent physiological changes were first mentioned in Justice League: Generation Lost #6.

Page 15  “No one’s looking for him but us.”  As a result of Max Lord mind wiping the world in Justice League: Generation Lost #1 and Brightest Day #0, no one but heroes formerly known as the JLI remember that Max ever existed. 

“He built Amazo.”  Amazo, nicknamed “the one-man JLA,” is an android created by Ivo that could duplicate the powers of the entire Justice League.

Page 20:  Whoa.  Ice went a little overboard with that last blast of hers…

Page 21:  Well now.  That’s an…interesting look there, Tora.  New stylist?  It’s very becoming…

Page 22:  “This is something new.”  And as they always say, new is better.  Always. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

BRIGHTEST DAY #11

“Father’s Day”

Writers: Geoff Johns & Peter J. Tomasi
Pencillers: Ivan Reis, Scott Clark, Patrick Gleason & Joe Prado
Inkers: David Beaty, Oclair Albert, Keith Champagne, Tom Nguyen
Editors: Eddie Berganza

Synopsis

Deathstorm has returned, and he plans on using Martin Stein’s mind and memories to destroy Ronnie Raymond.  Jason and Ronnie form Firestorm, but Deathstorm absorbs Alvin Rusch as well and flies off towards Silver City.  There, he infect the White Lantern, and Firestorm can only watch helplessly as Deathstorm revives the Black Lanterns of those who were restored to life by the White Lantern…

Aquaman battles Black Manta, giving Jackson Hyde and his father time to escape.  Manta is determined to get to his son at all costs.  Manta taunts his old foe, but Aquaman overwhelms him, tossing him in front of an oncoming truck, incapacitating him briefly.  Aquaman, Jackson and Mr. Hyde escape, and Aquaman uses Jackson to open the chest which is the boy’s by birthright.  Inside is a map telling them where to go next…

J’onn J’onzz returns to Mars, only to find that a forest has sprung up around his home in the shape of a Black Lantern symbol…

Notes

Page 1:  Deathstorm, Martin Stein, Ronald Raymond and Jason Rusch last appeared in Brightest Day #10.

Deathstorm is, of course, the recently returned and renamed Black Lantern Firestorm.

“You already know what that’ll do.”  In Brightest Day #10, Stein told Ronnie and Jason that their arguing could result in another Big Bang, of which they would be the only survivors.

Page 2:  Man, that Deathstorm is such a show-off…

“There’s no good or evil.  There’s only dead or alive.”  It’s easy to call Nekron and the Black Lanterns evil but, in reality, they are only an expression of death, whereas the Entity of the White Light is not necessarily good, but it does represent life.

Page 3:  “You know Ronnie better than me, don’t you?”  He had better, considering that he spent years inside his head, every time he merged with him to create Firestorm.

Pages 4-5:  Aquaman, Jackson Hyde, Mr., Hyde, Black Manta, Hila and her soldiers last appeared in Brightest Day #10.

I have to say, this is the most bad-ass that I have seen Aquaman looking in years…

“Where is she?  Where is Mera?”  No clue.  She hasn’t been seen since Brightest Day #9.

Hila is Mera’s sister, in case you arrived to the party late.  All these new faces, we really need to start handing out nametags or something…

Page 6:  “…you know how important sons can be to their fathers.”  An especially hurtful statement from Black Manta, given that he murdered Aquaman’s son Arthur years ago.  Then again, no one ever said that Black Manta was a very nice man…

Page 7Saved by the Bell was a television series about high school students that, for some inexplicable reason, ran for five seasons and spawned two spin-offs.  It was arguably the career high-points for stars Dustin Diamond and Mario Lopez.

“If you’re going to live life hiding from it in the bottom of a bottle, why live life at all?”  Since his return from the dead, Ronnie has been drinking and partying to an excess.  Interestingly enough, after he and Stein first became Firestorm, Stein would have no memory of his super-hero life after he and Ronnie separated.  Despondent over his blackouts and missing time, he began to drink until Ronnie told him about their time as a hero.  Stein knows a thing or two about drowning your sorrows in a bottle.

“How could he not after what we did to his girlfriend?”  Black Lantern Firestorm transformed Gehenna Hewitt into a pillar of salt in Blackest Night #3.

Page 8:  Ok, I was fairly critical of it in the beginning, but I am starting to dig Scott Clark’s artwork on this series.  Still not my favorite of the artists working on this title, but it’s growing on me.

The Fury of Firestorm the Nuclear Man was the title of Firestorm’s first ongoing series, which debuted in 1982.  The book was re-titled Firestorm the Nuclear Man with issue #65, and ran until issue #100.

Page 9:  "I still remember the sound your son made when I gut him like a fish."  Actually, Black Manta suffocated Arthur, Jr.years ago; Perhaps he just has dreams of gutting children and all of the sudden finds himself talking about them out loud. 

“If you’re here, that means she finally told you the truth I’ve always known.”  And what truth is that?

“About what her people did to me.”  What did they do to you?

“About what they wanted to do to you.”  In Brightest Day #6, Mera admitted that she was originally sent to Earth to kill Aquaman.  Whether or not this is the whole truth, and the true connection Black Manta has to Mera’s people, remains to be seen. 

Page 10:  “You were the last to know.”  Wait, hold on a second, he still doesn’t know.  And neither do I, so maybe I’ll be the last to know…

Page 11:  Alvin Rusch last appeared in Brightest Day #3. 

“How’d you get so damn smart?”  Unlike Ronnie Raymond, who was a jock, Jason Rusch was a good student in high school, and didn’t necessarily need to rely on a smarter co-pilot like Martin Stein to aid him as Firestorm.

Page 12:  I am still unsure about how Deathstorm teleported Alvin from Detroit to Pittsburgh; this has never been one of Firestorm’s powers before.

Page 13:  Where are Hila and her troops during this fight?  They just vanished as if they were never there.

Page 14:  Okay, check out Panel One, specifically between Black Manta’s left arm and leg.  Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Dum da da da da dee dum de dum…

Doesn’t there look like there is a hell of a lot of blood there?  Like, akin to Manta being gutted and profusely bleeding out?

But in Panel Four he just gets right up with nothing more than a small gash on his shoulder.  His right shoulder, no less. 

Weird.

“We need a lift.”  So the king of the seven seas and one of the founding members of the Justice League of America flees from a battle…in a big rig? 

Oh, good, Hila and her men finally show up to the fight.  They must have stopped off at a White Castle along the way…

Page 15:  I did a little experiment here.  I went onto Yahoo Local Maps and got the driving directions from Pittsburgh, PA to Silver City, NM.  And, according to that, the distance is about 1,881 miles, give or take a few feet. 

So even if Firestorm and Deathstorm are traveling at 1,000 miles per hour (which seems extremely y fast, but bear with me)m it would take them almost two hours to make that trip.  Has Firestorm just followed behind him the whole time?  Or did he decide to try to lasso Deathstorm just as their flight was over? 

I know it’s just comics…but for some reason this REALLY irked me…

Hey, it’s Russell and Jerry!  We haven’t seen them since Brightest Day #7.

 “Jason…do you remember the vision we saw?”  In Brightest Day #7, Ronnie and Jason saw a vision of Deathstorm holding and corrupting the White Lantern.  The Entity of the White Light told them, “Don’t let him destroy me.”  It seems that they need to get working on that particular mission…

Page 16:  “Man, it’s heavy.”  It seems that the White Lantern can only be lifted by the one who was chosen to wield its power.  Deathstorm needs to corrupt its power in order to lift it.

“No.  You will not destroy the White Lantern.  You will bring the White Lantern to me.”  So who could this new Big Bad be?  I think that it’s too soon for a return by Nekron, but maybe the Anti-Monitor?  A new incarnation of Darkseid?  The Rainbow Raider?

Page 17:  “The power of life will belong to me.”  Well, whoever he is, he has some lofty goals, I’ll say that much for him.  “Power of life,” what ya gonna do with that, hmmm?

Pages 18-19:  “Rise.”  This two-page spread is, of course, an homage to Blackest Night #8, pages 24-27, in which the White Lantern Twelve returned to life.  Now, their Black Lantern counterparts have returned, which is never a good thing…

By the way, from left to right are Black Lanterns of the Reverse-Flash, Maxwell Lord IV, Hawk, Jade, Captain Boomerang, Firestorm (er, sorry, “Deathstorm”), J’onn J’onzz, Aquaman, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Deadman and Osiris.

Page 20:  In Brightest Day #10, Mr. Hyde revealed that Jackson was not his son; a woman from the sea gave the boy to him and his wife to protect him.  She also left behind this chest which only Jackson could open; when he placed his hand near the clasp, it glowed in conjunction with the tattoo on his arm, as it does here.

And inside there’s a…

A map. 

A map?

Abandoned by his parents, attacked by Black Manta, and all Jackson gets is a map? 

Man, some kids have no luck…

Page 21:  J’onn J’onzz last appeared in Brightest Day #9, which took place concurrent with Green Arrow (third series) #4.

Pages 22-23:  You know, it’s never a good sign when you leave your arid, dead world and then come back a few days later to find that the vegetation has miraculously re-grown but into the shape of a Black Lantern symbol…